Ireland's Golden Age: Irish Baroque Orchestra/Monica Huggett/Siobhan Armstrong/Roisin O’Grady

Ireland's Golden Age: Irish Baroque Orchestra/Monica Huggett/Siobhan Armstrong/Roisin O’Grady

Thursday, 16 May 2013, 7.00pm

Ireland’s Golden Age: A Baroque Performance of Music from 18th Century Dublin and Cork
Irish Baroque Orchestra directed by Monica Huggett 
Featuring: Siobhan Armstrong (early Irish harp), Roisin O’Grady ( soprano)
Tickets: 16eu (12eu concessions) 
Online from or telephone the IBO at 01-5545 220 
or book at the National Concert Hall Box Office, Tel 01-417 0000 (no booking fees) 
Ireland’s Golden Age: The early 18th century marked Ireland’s first Golden Age.As the second city in the British Isles Dublin was a thriving , febrile hub of building , commerce, social activity and of course music. Attracted by the city’s wealth, composers from all over Europe converged on Dublin seeking inspiration and patronage.

Noted composers such as Cousser, Geminiani, Dubourg, Michael Arne and Tommaso Giordani made Dublin their home; others such as Handel and Pasquali visited frequently. Meanwhile traditional Irish music flourished through the prodigious output of the Irish harpers who also flocked to the capital. Included in their number was the blind harpist Turlough Carolan who composed over 220 works that survive to this day. Inevitably the two musical styles collided often to joyous effect.

The baroque ballad operas were probably the best examples of this exciting union and the best known of these was of course The Beggar’s Opera composed in 1728 at the suggestion of Jonathan Swift. In May the Irish Baroque Orchestra, Ireland’s premiere period ensemble, led by artistic director and Grammy nominee, Monica Huggett will present music from Ireland’s Golden Age including works by Handel, Geminiani, Vivaldi and Carolan.

This unique presentation of baroque works will also feature the acclaimed early Irish harpist Siobhan Armstrong and soloist Roisin O’Grady (soprano). The Irish Baroque Orchestra tours to Dublin and Cork before performing at the Melk International Baroque Festival, Austria (with the assistance of Culture Ireland) and at the Irish Embassy in Vienna. 
Pepusch: Overture - The Beggar’s Opera 
Carolan: O’Rourke’s Feast (arr. Lorenzo Bocchi) 
Handel: Overture - Alexander’s Feast Handel: aria - Take the heart you fondly gave (Jephtha) 
Handel: aria - Da tempeste (Giulio Cesare) 
Dubourg: Violin Concerto 
Carolan: Two airs (for solo Irish harp) 
Geminiani: Concerto grosso Opus 3 no 3 in E minor (Grave- Allegro- Andante- Allegro) 
Pasquali: Overture - The Triumphs of Hibernia 
Pasquali: Two songs from The Triumphs of Hibernia 
Vivaldi: Concerto No. 1 in E major, Op. 8, RV 269, La primavera (Spring) 
Carolan: Two airs (for solo Irish harp) 
Handel: Concerto grosso in C (Alexander’s Feast)
Siobhan Armstrong (early Irish Harp) 
Siobhan Armstrong is one of a small number of harpists worldwide who play harps from earlier centuries and who research historical playing techniques and repertoire appropriate to these instruments. She has an extensive collection of copies of instruments from the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the Baroque eras, including chromatic multi-row harps: an Italian arpa doppia and a Spanish arpa de dos ordenes. Siobhán is particularly interested in encouraging the revival of Ireland’s early harp, which was strung in brass and sometimes silver and perhaps even gold wires.

This instrument was played in Ireland from at least 1000 and made famous by harpers such as Ó Catháin and Carolan. Alongside her solo work, Siobhán Armstrong performs with some of the most prestigious soloists, ensembles and conductors in the field of early music such as William Christie and Les Arts Florissants; Jeffrey Skidmore and Ex Cathedra; and Paul McCreesh and The Gabrieli Consort. With these ensembles, she records with Deutsche Grammophon, Sony, Teldec, Virgin Classics, Erato and Dorian. Another of her primary interests is the art of continuo playing i.e. the art of improvising vocal or instrumental accompaniment from a bass line; a style of playing found in baroque music.

She regularly does this in period instrument productions of 17th century operas by Monteverdi, Rossi and Cavalli among others in the main opera houses in Europe and the U.S.A. Siobhán Armstrong has performed and broadcast throughout Europe, North America and Japan and has appeared as a soloist or ensemble player at venues including the Konzerthaus in Vienna, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in London, the Opéra Comique in Paris, the Zankel Hall at Carnegie, NY, and Izumi Hall in Osaka. She has also been a participant at the main early music festivals including Boston, Utrecht, Chaise-Dieu and Vienna and at traditional music festivals such as the Festival Interceltique de Lorient, Brittany.

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